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South Korea defense report doesn’t refer to North as enemy



South Korea defense report doesnt refer to North as enemy

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is no longer South Korea’s “enemy,” though Pyongyang’s nuclear program still poses a security threat, according to Seoul’s biennial defense document published Tuesday.

It’s the first time since 2010, the same year 50 South Koreans were killed in attacks blamed on the North, that the enemy label hasn’t been applied, and a further sign of better ties between the rivals.

The South Korean Defense Ministry white paper doesn’t include past terms that labeled North Korea an “enemy, a “present enemy” or the South’s “main enemy.” It still said the North’s weapons of mass destruction are a “threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” a reference to the North’s missile and nuclear program.

The “enemy” terminology has been a long-running source of animosity between the Koreas. North Korea has called the label a provocation that demonstrated Seoul’s hostility.

Liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pursuing deeper engagement with the North after a surprise round of diplomacy last year replaced threats of war and a string of increasingly powerful North Korean weapons tests in 2017.

Moon is not alone in seeking better ties with the North. The paper’s release also comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un look to stage a second summit meant to settle a standoff over the North’s pursuit of a nuclear program that can reliably target anywhere in the continental United States.

South Korea first called North Korea its “main enemy” in 1995, a year after North Korea threatened to turn Seoul into “sea of fire,” a term the North has since repeatedly used when confrontations flared with the South.

During a previous era of detente in the 2000s, South Korea avoided using the reference, but it revived the term in its defense document after the 2010 attacks by the North.

In the latest defense document, South Korea’s military said it considers unspecified “forces which threaten (South Korea)’s sovereignty, territory, citizens and property our enemy.”

North Korea’s state media hasn’t immediately responded.

The change in terminology is certain to draw strong criticism from conservatives in South Korea who argue that Moon’s push to engage the North has deeply undermined the country’s security posture.

Under tension-easing agreements reached after Moon’s summit with Kim Jong Un in September, the two Koreas demolished some of their front-line guard posts, established buffer zones along their frontier and demilitarized a shared border village.

Many conservatives in South Korea have said that South Korea shouldn’t have agreed on conventional arms-reduction programs because North Korea’s nuclear threat remains unchanged.

According to the South Korean defense document, North Korea has 1.28 million troops, one of the world’s largest armies, compared with the South’s 599,000. The North also still forward-deploys about 70 percent of its army assets and has newly launched a special operation unit specializing in assassinations, it said.

The document publicized the 14 kinds of ballistic missiles that it said the North possesses or is developing, including ICBMs that the country test-launched last year. The document said the ICBM tests haven’t proved whether North Korea has overcome a major remaining technological barrier and now has the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with missiles.

The document also assessed that the North has a “considerable amount of highly enriched uranium,” an ingredient that gives North Korea a second route to manufacture nuclear weapons along with its stockpile of 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of weaponized plutonium, which civilian experts say is enough for at least eight bombs.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told parliament in October that North Korea was estimated to have up to 60 nuclear weapons.

Broader global diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons hasn’t achieved a breakthrough since Kim’s summit with Trump in Singapore last June.

Prospects for a second U.S.-North Korea summit have been boosted after Kim travelled to China last week in what experts say was a trip aimed at coordinating positions ahead of talks with Trump.



Foreign Affairs

Is war with Iran inevitable?



Is war with Iran inevitable

Aggressive actions have become commonplace between Iran and the United States over the last two months. The U.S. sent the powerful Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber squadron to the region following the defection and intelligence cache delivery by former Iranian Brigadier General Ali Nasiri. Since then, Iran has been bombing tankers, shooting down American drones, and attempting to seize a British Tanker.

Today, the escalation continued as Iran admitted to capturing at least one foreign oil tanker. Then, the United States sent the USS Boxer, loaded with 2000 Marines, into the Persian Gulf where it shot down an Iranian drone that came within 1000 yards of the ship.

Is war inevitable?

No. There is still a very good chance President Trump will not risk reelection by engaging in another unpopular Middle East war. There are those who think Iran will push it too far, and that may be the case, but their goal would be to provoke attack, not war. It behooves them to get hit by the United States so they can play the victim card in the international arena. This is why they’ll poke, prod, annoy, and continue to be aggressive without going so far as to make war warranted.

An attack by the west is the best thing Iran can hope to happen at this point. Their economy is crumbling. Their terror and military proxies are hurting because of the dried up funds no longer coming in from Tehran. They can’t seem to sneak an oil tanker around Africa to Syria, one of the few places willing to disregard U.S. sanctions against Iran. So they’re left with either giving up their nuclear weapons ambitions altogether or provoking a war without being clearly seen as the aggressors.

Even though I do not believe war is inevitable, I don’t see a way to completely avoid military action. Iran won’t stop until they’ve forced an attack against them.

The Middle East has always been a volatile place. With Iran doing everything they can to appear like the victims to the international community while still seeming strong internally, strikes may be inevitable but war is not.

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Foreign Affairs

Adelle Nazarian to Trump: Ask Emir of Qatar about Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera



Adelle Nazarian to Trump Ask Emir of Qatar about Muslim Brotherhood Al Jazeera

As the leader of Qatar visits President Trump in the White House, many are calling on the President to bring up sensitive topics about two organizations that work in opposition to Trump’s administration and America in general: the Islamic terrorist group Muslim Brotherhood and news agency Al Jazeera.

Qatar’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood are well documented as Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has utilized our military base there as leverage to make us turn a blind eye to the Muslim Brotherhood’s terrorist activities. As Ryan Mauro, director of Clarion Intelligence Network, noted:

The byline literally says “sponsored by the government of Qatar.” Qatar is using our own military base as a bargaining chip to compel us to ignore their sponsoring of terrorism and the spreading of the Islamist ideology.

As for Al Jazeera, one need only look at the coverage of the Emir on their website to understand the dynamic in play there. Many have noted that Al Jazeera uses “doublespeak” in crossing over between their two primary reporting languages. They can take the same report and portray it completely differently in English as they do in Arabic.

Being a strategic ally makes it important for America to be engaged with them, but that doesn’t mean we should be ignoring their anti-American activities just because they’re inconvenient to the foreign relations narrative. That’s what President Obama did to disastrous results. President Trump should do better.

Adelle Nazarian, an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, joined Jack Posobiec on One America News to call on the President to address these important issues with Qatar.

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Foreign Affairs

Iran will continue to be a pest until they become a real problem



Iran will continue to be a pest until they become a real problem

Today, Iran is an annoying little dog barking like crazy but unable to penetrate the pant leg of western powers operating in the Middle East. But even an annoying little dog can be very dangerous if they sink their jaws into someone’s jugular, and at this stage they may be seeking a jugular to go after.

Their desperation is clear. Nobody in the west can know for sure how crucial the supertanker full of crude oil captured by British forces earlier this month was to the Iranians, but they made the unprecedented move of admitting their subterfuge and demanding their tanker back. The pretended it was a Panama ship managed by a Singapore company with Iraqi oil in it that they took all the way around Africa instead of cutting through the Suez Canal, so we can assume by the great lengths they went to in order to try to deliver it to Syria that this was important to them. Was it crucial? Was this a last gasp attempt to jumpstart their economy after having it crushed by U.S. sanctions?

Their willingness to try to seize a British tanker may mean their losses were, indeed, backbreaking.

Five Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps gunboats tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday but backed off after a British warship approached, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

The British warship was said to have been less than 5 miles behind the tanker but soon intercepted the Iranian boats and threatened to open fire. A manned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was above as well, the official said, adding that Iranian forces left without opening fire.

But this embarrassment in front of the international audience will not be a lesson learned. If anything, Iran and their “Twelver” mentality will feel the need to escalate their actions and do real damage. At some point in the near future, they’re going to open fire and kill someone. That’s the only thing they haven’t done yet during their recent rise in aggressive activities. And when they do take a life, it will almost certainly be American.

Iran needs to be the victim

There are two conflicting narratives the Iranian government needs to perpetuate in order to be successful, at least in their own minds. First, they must put up a front of strength to their people and allies. Their military may be relatively small compared to western military forces, China, or Russia, but they’re significant enough to pose a threat to anyone in the region. The second narrative is one of victimhood in the eyes of the international community. They need the United Nations generally to view them as being bullied by the west, and while a case can be made that the United States is provoking them by slapping on sanctions and leaving the nuclear deal, it’s hard to make a case that the United Kingdom did anything wrong by enforcing EU sanctions on Syria.

Their victimhood narrative is hard to push when they’re sending gunboats to capture civilian ships.

The United States is positioned well by being out of this particular conflict. Other than supporting the British with intelligence and reconnaissance, we haven’t gotten involved in either tanker incident between the U.K. and Iran. Sure, Iran and even Spain can point to the U.K. acting as American proxies, but it’s a hard case to make when it was their waters off Gibraltar where the British seized the Iranian tanker, as well as it being a British tanker that was attacked by Iran.

With or without the U.S. proxy label, the U.K. was right to enforce EU sanctions and to defend their own boats.

Whatever move Iran wants to make next, it’s unlikely to be as muted as a few small gunboats running away from a British battleship.

Underestimating Iran would be a huge mistake, but treating them as equals would be an even bigger one. They are pests and should be handled as such. But when they become more than pests, we need to be ready to act.

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